Consumer Reports Standby Generators Ratings

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Generator Ratings

Both can handle the essentials, so your decision comes down to power and price. When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission.

They burn through 12 to 20 gallons per day, depending on the output of the generator and the load it’s powering. Manufacturers also make portable generators that can run on liquid propane, natural gas, or diesel fuel, but Consumer Reports generally doesn’t test these models because they represent only a small percentage of the market.
Portable models tend to be noisier and to produce less power than standby models, and they need to be wheeled out of storage, connected to your home’s circuit-breaker panel, and manually fired up in the event of an outage. If you use one during inclement weather, such as a rainstorm—probably during a power outage—you’ll need to protect your generator from the elements with a model-specific cover or a freestanding canopy.
The advantages? They kick on automatically when the lights go out, and they can power everything in your home at once. Plus they run on natural gas or propane, which means they can operate for days or weeks on a full whole-house propane tank or indefinitely in the case of natural-gas versions.
“If you can afford it, I’d tell you to pick a home standby generator every time.”. Yet far more people choose portable generators for that simple reason: price. Here, we catalog the pros and cons of each type of generator. Our generator buying guide also offers insights on these and other types. CR members can read on, below, for ratings and reviews of the top three models in each of the two categories.
Or for more choices, browse our extensive generator ratings. Power output: 8,000 to 20,000 wattsPrice range: $2,000 to $5,000Fuel needs: 13 to 48 gallons of liquid propane or natural gas per day.

Power Up When the Power Is Down With the Best Generator

Pros: Home standby generators are largely worry-free. They’re typically sized to power an entire house in the event of an outage, and they come on automatically.

Generators Buying Guide

They can run for days or weeks without refueling, they tend to be very quiet, and you don’t need to fuss with weather covers. Cons: Home standby generators are pricier to buy, and installation costs can range from a few thousand dollars to $10,000 or more. Power output: 3,000 to 8,500 wattsPrice range: $400 to $1,500Fuel needs: 12 to 20 gallons of gasoline per day.